The Career of Sir Guy Ferre the Younger 1298-1320


In the letters patent by which Edward II informed the
constable of Bordeaux that Sir Guy Ferre the Younger had
been appointed to the seneschalsy of Gascony, the king
clearly articulated that the seneschals primary
responsibility was to maintain the jus et honor of the
king-duke throughout the duchy of Aquitaine.1 As the income
Edward II derived from his tenure of the duchy exceeded
that of all the English shires combined,2 he not
surprisingly exerted great effort to maintain his
administrative and judicial presence in what remained to
him of the so-called Angevin empire. Continuing disputes,
however, over the nature and performance of the liege
homage owed since 1259 to the Capetian monarchs made
residence in the duchy problematic for the kings of
England. As a consequence, both Edward I and his son,
Edward II, elected to administer Gascony by delegating
their ducal authority to household retainers or clients,
official representatives, and salaried ministers. At
various times from 1298 to 1320, Sir Guy Ferre the Younger
served in Gascony in all of these capacities, as both
comital administrator and advocate for the maintenance of
ducal authority. Rather than focus on the mechanical
details involved in the actual administration of the duchy,
this study, by following the career of a model ducal
representative, examines the strengths and weaknesses of
the policy adopted by the absentee Plantagenet king-dukes
for maintaining ducal authority against their increasingly
invasive Capetian over-lords.
The present essay supplements previous historiographical
work on early fourteenth-century Gascon administration, a
topic which has captured the scholarly attention of several
capable authors. The most exhaustive treatment of this
sometimes difficult subject is J. P. Trabut-Cussacs
magisterial book on Gascony during the period from 1254 to
1307. Trabut-Cussac narrates the course of political events
in Aquitaine and provides a thematic analysis of the
financial and judicial administration of the duchy. The
political narrative of an earlier study by Eleanor Lodge,
Gascony under English Rule, has been superseded by the
accounts offered in Trabut-Cussac and the more recent book
by Malcolm Vale, but Lodges commentary on administrative
matters still offers some useful insights. In his works
onthe governance of medieval England, T. F. Tout contrasts
the peculiarities of Gascon administration with domestic
practice.3 Charles Bémont and Pierre Chaplais have further
contributed to our understanding of this topic, as have a
number of other scholars whose contributions are cited
below.4 To synthesize their conclusions briefly, it was
Edward I who created the administrative machinery required
to govern the duchy in the king-dukes absence. Ducal
authority was divided among three officials--the royal
lieutenant, the constable of Bordeaux, and the seneschal of
Gascony--who were appointed by the king-duke and served at
pleasure. Royal lieutenants were named irregularly (usually
during or after periods of crisis) and contributed little
to the daily administration of the duchy. Rather, they
personified ducal authority by fulfilling the king-dukes
mandates and directing the activities of his subordinates.
During the reign of Edward II, the royal lieutenancy as a
distinct office appeared with less frequency and his
authority devolved upon the seneschals of Gascony, some of
whom were styled senescallus et locum tenans (seneschal and
lieutenant). The constable of Bordeaux administered the
finances of the duchy and presented his accounts annually
at the royal exchequer in Westminster. Although he
performed a crucial function in the administration of the
duchy, the constables personal role in maintaining ducal
presence in Gascony, particularly after the advent of
Edward II, was subordinate to that of the seneschal, who
wielded vice-ducal powers. The extent to which the latter
officials authority approximated the prerogatives enjoyed
by a sovereign medieval prince is apparent in Sir Guy
Ferres letters of appointment. Edward II empowered Guy
Ferre to perform a large number of tasks ranging from the
adjudication of disputes to the leading of armies in the
field.5 Guy Ferres exercise of these prerogatives will be
discussed more fully in due course, but first let us
examine the historical circumstances that resulted in the
king-dukes absenteeism and consequent delegation of his
ducal authority.
The Plantagenet policy of non-residence in Gascony was a
by-product of the feudal relationship created between the
kings of France and England in the treaty of Paris of
1259.6 By the terms of that treaty, Henry III, in exchange
for minor territorial concessions within Gascony itself,
renounced his claims to Normandy, Poitou, Maine, Touraine,
and Anjou; furthermore, Henry III agreed to hold what
remained to him of the Angevin duchy of Aquitaine as an
hereditary fief of the French crown, an arrangement which
made the king-duke a subject of the king of France. Thus,
the Plantagenets, sovereign princes in England,
nevertheless were obliged to perform liege homage in order
to gain tenure of their continental possessions. Liege
homage in this case entailed not only the vassals
acknowledgement of his subservient position in relation to
his lord, but also the swearing of an oath of personal
loyalty to the lord which was subject to renewal each time
a different prince inherited either the kingdom of France
or the duchy of Aquitaine.7 The king-dukes of Aquitaine,
perceiving the homage ceremony as beneath their regal
dignity and the personal oath of fealty as detrimental to
their royal prerogative,8 attempted with varying success to
mitigate the terms of their allegiance either by swearing
ambigous oaths of fealty or by avoiding altogether the
performance of homage. The former course of action they
justified by claiming that Aquitaine had been an allodial
fief before 1259 and had not lost that status by the terms
of the treaty of Paris; they further argued that the homage
performed by Henry III applied only to those lands given
him by Louis IX in exchange for Henrys renunciation of
Normandy, Poitou, Maine, Touraine, and Anjou.9 Subsequent
homage depended, the English maintained, upon complete
fulfillment of the terms of the 1259 treaty. Thus when
Edward I performed homage in 1273, he swore fealty for
those lands which he "ought to hold" fom the king of
France;10 by implication, Edward I neither recognized nor
owed any feudal obligations (particularly for Aquitaine)
because the kings of France had failed to relinquish the
lands promised in the treaty of Paris. Edward II, in
contrast to his fathers attempts to dispute the terms of
allegiance, adopted a Fabian strategy of evasion. After
crossing the Channel in 1308 to perform homage to Philip
the Fair, the king of England avoided his obligations to
Louis X and Philip V from 1314 until 1320, the fourth year
of Philip Vs reign; Edward II accomplished this six year
postponement by appealing to the real or imagined dangers
that would result from his leaving the kingdom during times
of unrest. Finally threatened by Philip V with confiscation
of the duchy (a punitive measure that had resulted in war
in 1294), Edward II appeared before the king of France at
Amiens in 1320. Whether or not a resident duke of Aquitaine
could have delayed the homage ceremony for six years is and
must remain a matter of speculation. It is certain,
however, that Edward IIs absence from the continent aided
his delaying tactics; furthermore, the king-dukes
willingness to allow relations with France to degenerate
into threats of forfeiture over the question of liege
homage testifies eloquently to the aversion Edward II had
for his feudal subordination to the Capetian monarchs. Not
surprisingly, the king elected to remain in England and
administer Gascony through vice-ducal representatives.
What type of men were these representatives? What
combination of personal qualities, familial connections,
and previous experience recommended them for administrative
service in the duchy of Aquitaine? Bémont, Renouard, and
Trabut-Cussac each offer prosopographical sketches of the
English kings ducal officials, but their biographies of
these men focus exclusively on the periods of their service
in the duchy and are far too skeletal in any event to
satisfy these questions.11 Some answers may be formulated
by tracing in detail the career of one man, Sir Guy Ferre
the Younger, who served the Plantagenets in one capacity or
another for over fifty years.
Guy Ferre began his administrative career in the household
of Queen Eleanor of Provence, widow of Henry III and mother
of Edward I, and eventually passed into royal service. He
first appeared in the public records in 1271, when he
received from Henry III a grant of 50 to accompany Prince
Edmund to the Holy Land.12 Nothing more is recorded
concerning Guy Ferres previous history and his origins
remain obscure. One document states that he was "alien
born,"13 while other records reveal that he was perceived
by the English as "French."14 He obviously belonged to the
knightly class, for in 1273, Guy Ferre, knight, witnessed a
charter issued at Guildford by Eleanor, mater regis. It
seems likely that Guy Ferre belonged to the queen mothers
household at that time, for in 1275 he appeared as Eleanors
steward. Sometime before February 1279, Guy Ferre married
Joan, daughter of Thomas, son of Otto. Sir Guy appeared in
the public records on 6 January 1280 with the title, "kings
yeoman,"15 even though the queen mother retained some claim
to Sir Guys service. That same month, for instance, Queen
Eleanor dispatched Guy Ferre to France on her own business;
Sir Guy returned to England before 1 November 1281, on
which date he appeared before the king at Westminster to
acknowledge his receipt of a royal annuity.16 In the
interim, Edward I had exempted Guy Ferre for life from
serving on assizes, juries, commissions, or recognizances;
in December 1281 the king further rewarded Guy Ferre with a
gift of twelve oaks from the royal forest of Haneleye.17
The public records show that Sir Guy Ferre witnessed a
charter for the queen mother in April 1282 (he was still
her steward), appeared before the king in December 1282 and
in October 1283, and that he witnessed another of Eleanors
charters in February 1284.18 Joan, Sir Guy Ferres wife, ded
during the summer of 1285, leaving as her heiress Mathilda,
her under-aged sister.19
The fourteenth year of Edward Is reign, 1285-1286,
witnessed Guy Ferres transition from Eleanor of Provences
household into exclusive royal service. Letters of
protection for going overseas were issued to Guy Ferre on 5
October 1285, but he remained in England until the summer
of the following year, at which time he crossed over to the
continent with the kings sizeable retinue.20 Sometime
before November 1285, Sir Guy Ferre had become a member of
the royal household and over a twelve-month period received
various payments from the controller of the wardrobe
totalling 25 16s. 4d.21 Edward I, who arrived in France on
19 May 1286, remained on the continent until the autumn of
1289; for much of the time the king-duke was in Gascony
reforming the duchys administration. Malcolm Vale states
that Edward I intended to establish an administrative
machinery capable of functioning despite the perpetual
absence of the duke.22 Indeed, during this three-year
period of activity, Edward I clarified the administrative
responsibilities of his two chief representatives in the
duchy, the seneschal of Gascony and the constable of
Bordeaux. We are unable to ascertain the degree to which
Guy Ferre contributed to the king-dukes reforming efforts
because Sir Guy does not appear in the surviving records
from the time of his departure for France in 1286 until 20
April 1289, the date on which he witnessed a royal charter
given in the Agenais. Guy Ferre was still attending the
king in Gascony the following month, but had returned to
England by November 1289.23
Prior to Edward Is 1286-1289 sojourn in Gascony, Guy Ferre
divided his allegiance between the king and Eleanor of
Provence, the kings mother. By the time Sir Guy returned to
England, the queen mother had retired to the convent of
Amesbury. Eleanors withdrawal from the world necessitated a
drastic reduction in the size of her household staff, a
development which freed Guy Ferre for exclusive royal
service. Guy Ferres prominence in the queen mothers
household had recommended him for a career in royal
administration. His last action on Queen Eleanors behalf
was to serve as one of her executors, but his primary
employer from 1286 had been the king of England. Royal
service certainly had its rewards. During the closing
months of 1289, Edward I granted Guy Ferre two manors. One
was given for the duration of Guy Ferres life and would
revert to the crown upon Sir Guys death; the other,
Gestingthorpe, was a permanent addition to Guy Ferre the
Youngers patrimony and could therefore descend to the "male
heirs of his body."24 The king also rewarded his dependents
by granting them temporary custody of those estates which
fell into royal hands either due to feudal escheats or to
the minority of the propertys lawful heirs. Guy Ferre
received two such gifts in January 1291.25
It is apparent that Guy Ferre the Younger had firmly
established himself in Edward Is confidence by 1291. In
January, for instance, Sir Guy not only received two grants
of royal patronage, he also accompanied the king to Norham,
co. Durham, in order to take part in Edward Is adjudication
of the Scottish succession.26 The king knew that Guy Ferre
had directed the queen mothers household as her steward,
and this experience, combined with Sir Guys long service
for the Plantagenet dynasty, no doubt influenced his next
appointment. Sometime before Easter 1293, the king attached
Guy Ferre to the household of his heir, Edward of
Carnarvon, prince of Wales. Sir Guys status in the future
Edward IIs familia is uncertain, but in 1293 he secured
venison from royal forests to fill the princes table.27
Despite his affiliation with the princes household, Guy
Ferre continued to be used on diplomatic business. In April
1294, for example, the king sent Sir Guy and three
associates to assess the value of the dower lands assigned
in marriage by the count of Bar to Eleanor the kings
daughter; if they valued 15,000 Tournois anually, Sir Guy
was to take possession of them. The mission was completed
and the emissaries were back in England by 1 August.28 When
war erupted in Gascony that summer, Guy Ferre received
letters of protection authorizing him to join the
contingent led by the kings nephew, John of Brittany, earl
of Richmond.29 Nevertheless, Sir Guy remained in England
with the prince of Wales after the army departed: on 26
December 1295, the sheriff of Norfolk, having previously
been ordered to sequester the lands, goods, and chattels of
"all alien laymen of the power of the king of France," was
directed to restore such property to Guy Ferre, who was
"staying continually in the company of Edward, the kings
son, by the kings special order, and who is not of the
power of the king of France and who never adhered to him
against the king at any time, as appears evident to the
king." In a separate entry on the Close Roll for the same
date, we find that the king had heard the testimony of Guy
Ferre himself in this matter.30
Meanwhile, the fighting in Gascony continued. John of
Brittanys forces in Gascony enjoyed little success against
the French, and in January 1296 the king dispatched fresh
troops to the duchy under the direction of his brother,
Edmund of Lancaster.31 Within six months of his landfall in
the duchy, however, Edmund died from natural causes in
Bayonne. Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, assumed command
and led the army to defeat at the hands of Robert of Artois
in January 1297. With the English discomfiture and a
shifting of the military focus to Flanders, fighting in
Gascony ground to a desultory halt. Although Sir Guys
initial letters of protection have not survived, and
despite the fact that his military contributions failed to
attract the attention of contemporary chroniclers, we may
be reasonably sure that Guy Ferre joined Edmunds expedition
and remained in Gascony throughout the last year of the
war, for he received letters of protection on 8 February
1297 to remain in Gascony on the kings business.32 By the
end of the summer, however, Guy Ferre the Younger had
returned to England, for he witnessed on 27 August the
transfer of the great seal from Prince Edward to the
chancellor.33 The following spring Guy Ferre received his
most important commission to date: Edward I appointed him
locum tenans of the duchy of Aquitaine.34
Informed by Sir Guy Ferres biography down to 1298, let us
isolate those qualifications generally displayed by men who
rose in royal service to the point of vice-ducal
representation. Firstly, entrance into royal service in a
large measure depended upon familial connections, family
being defined here in the broader medieval sense of
familia, or household, a social grouping whose membership
was not confined to blood relatives.35 The head of the
familia, whether a clerical or lay magnate, aided his
household members promotion into royal service by bringing
them into contact with the court and sponsoring their
employment on the kings business. In Guy Ferres case, his
affiliation with the household of Eleanor of Provence led
to royal service. Household connection, of course, was not
the only route into the kings administration, but familial
membership opened doors normally closed to many others who
desired access to the rewards associated with royal
service. The vice-ducal representative, in the second
place, had already acquired some degree of administrative
and/or diplomatic experience, either in the service of his
previous lord or on royal errands. Sir Guy the Younger, as
we have seen, not only had played important roles in
governing the households of the queen mother and the prince
of Wales, he also had completed successfully several
diplomatic missions prior to his appointment as royal locum
tenans in Gascony. Lastly, the king-duke promoted those men
whose social status was at least knightly and whose
reliability and loyalty to the dynasty were above reproach.
It is impossible to quantify the impact of the kings
patronage on his servants loyalty and reliability, but
there can be no doubt that the two were relate. So long as
the royal servant upheld his responsibilities, he
reasonably could expect to receive at irregular intervals
some manifestation of the kings approbation. Edward Is
various grants to Guy Ferre of royal timber, wardships,
manors, and promises of justice may be seen as a measure of
both Sir Guys loyalty and the kings gratitude. With his
appointment as Edward Is lieutenant in Gascony, Guy Ferre
the Younger reached the summit of royal service, vice-ducal
representation.36 The royal lieutenancy brought its holder
great rewards (an annual salary of 500 sterling) as well as
heavy responsibilities, the foremost of which was
maintaining ducal authority.
From 1298 until his retirement from royal service in 1320,
Guy Ferre frequently served the English crown as an
advocate of ducal authority, and it is primarily that
aspect of his career that we shall emphasize hereafter.37
Before examining Guy Ferres exercise of ducal authority,
however, something must be said concerning the purpose and
limitations of the primary source we are using to chart
administrative activity in the duchy of Aquitaine. The
Gascon roll, generated and maintained by chancery clerks in
London, records only the mandates sent by the king-duke to
his representatives in the duchy. The Gascon roll therefore
provides no evidence of the lieutenant or seneschals
independent administrative decisions, as, for example, an
episcopal register does for the corresponding activities of
its bishop. We may be certain that the authority of the
vice-ducal officials extended to independent exercise of
ducal sovereignty, because during his tenure Guy Ferre the
Younger had possession and use of the seal of the duchy of
Aquitaine;38 this enabled Sir Guy to issue mandates and
grants on his own recognizance. If those vice-ducal
commands were enrolled in a separate administrative
instrument (as the kings were in the close, patent, and
Gascon rolls), it is unfortunately no longer extant.39
Thus, the Gascon roll, the sole surviving source for the
absentee administration of the duchy of Aquitaine, permits
a close examination only of the king-dukes mandates to his
subordinates, not the implementation of those
Guy Ferre the Younger served as Edward Is locum tenans from
April 1298 until November 1299.40 As discussed previously,
the royal lieutenant performed few administrative duties.
Rather, he personified ducal authority by fulfilling the
king-dukes mandates and by directing the activities of
subordinates. The following royal instructions illustrate
the range of Guy Ferres vice-ducal responsiblities: first,
the appointment of certain reputable men to various offices
in the duchys administration; second, the assurance that
the mayor and jurats (municipal officials who combined
administrative and judicial responsibilities) of Bayonne
are allowed to enjoy the citys ancient laws and customs;
third, the restoration of property seized illegally by
ducal officials during the recent war with the king of
France; and finally, the payment of the king-dukes numerous
debts, especially arrearages of wages.41 The sources say
nothing more of Sir Guy Ferre the Youngers activities in
the duchy during his tenure of the lieutenancy; the absence
of documentation reduces us to cautious speculation. It
seems likely, for instance, that Guy Ferre participated up
to June 1298 in the diplomatic traffic between Edward I and
Boniface VIII, but if Sir Guy indeed submitted to papal
arbitration the king-dukes case against the king of France
concerning the 1294 sequestration of the duchy, no trace of
that involvement survives.42 A much clearer picture of the
vice-ducal officials role in maintaining ducal authority
emerges after the accession of Edward II in 1307, during
whose reign the seneschal, in addition to performing his
administrative duties, assumed the symbolic position
previously filled by the royal lieutenant.
Edward II appointed Guy Ferre seneschal of Gascony in March
1308.43 For seventeen months, Sir Guy wielded an authority
that approximated sovereign prerogatives, such as
conducting egotiations, adjudicating all disputes and
controversies as far as appeals to royal justice,
travelling as occasion demanded to the Parlement of Paris
to act as proctor in cases involving the kings custody and
rule over the duchy, raising and leading armies as
necessary to preserve the king-dukes rights and honor, and
presenting appropriate persons to ecclesiastical
benefices.44 These considerable powers were clearly
assigned to Guy Ferre in his various letters of
appointment, but the Gascon rolls suggest that he utilized
only his judicial rights.
Providing equity to ones subjects was the cornerstone of
sovereignty in the fourteenth century, and the dispensation
of justice was one of Guy Ferres more absorbing tasks. Most
legal disputes recorded in the Gascon rolls involve royal
commands to investigate a complaint and dispense justice
through the royally-appointed Gascon council according to
the foros et consuetudines (laws and customs) of the
duchy.45 Such cases illustrate the routine operation of the
ducal courts. Of more interest to our investigation of the
king-dukes maintenance of his influence in Gascony are
those mandates concerned with the judicial activities of
the Parlement of Paris.
Prior to the 1259 treaty, as English jurists reiterated
throughout this period, Gascony had been an allodial fief,
held by the king-duke in undisputed sovereignty.46 For the
king-dukes Gascon subjects, such sovereignty established
the ducal court at Bordeaux as their highest court of
appeal.47 The Capetian kings of France maintained, however,
that the treaty of Paris imposition of liege homage placed
the king-dukes courts within the French judicial system,
thereby subverting Plantagenet claims to allodial
sovereignty and subordinating ducal judicial decisions to
the approval of the Parlement of Paris. Philip the Fair
actively encouraged Gascons to bring appeals against ducal
decisions to the French royal court, where they were
assured a favorable response.48 Edward IIs representatives,
especially the seneschal, acted on the king-dukes behalf to
prevent this deliberate erosion of ducal authority. On 15
March, 1308, Sir Guy Ferre the Younger was ordered to
restore to William, lord of Caumonte, his
lawfully-sequestered castles, lands, possessions,
lordships, and moveable goods, "with the provision that the
same William will first renounce his appeals to the court
of the king of France."49 That is to say, if William of
Caumonte acknowledged publicly the sovereignty of the
English duke, he would immediately enjoy a restoration to
his former status.
The king-duke relied on this conciliatory tactic in a more
serious case in March 1309. At that time, the viscount and
men of Anvillars in the seneschalsy of Agenais were
persuaded to drop their appeals to the Parlement of Paris
and absolve the king from a fine of 10,000 Tournois imposed
by the French royal court. In exchange, they were exempted
from paying the damages they had inflicted on the king-duke
and his servants.50 The case originally had arisen during
Edward Is reign when the men of the village (apparently
encouraged by French royal agents) rebelled against the
English dukes, "committing many homicides and perpetrating
great damages." A dispute between ducal officials and local
notables over the territorial limits of the viscounty had
provoked the viscount and his men; their actions, which
directly challenged Plantagenet authority, were
subsequently, and perhaps not surprisingly, approved in the
curia Francie, even though the king-duke was without
question the aggrieved party. Active judicial intervention
in the duchy was the Capetians most effective weapon in
their struggle with the Plantagenets over ducal authority.
By encouraging appeals against the king-duke (and
guaranteeing favorable outcomes to Gascon appelants) the
king of France negated the king of Englands claims to
sovereignty in Aquitaine. The Plantagenet dukes had no real
defense against such attacks on their position. Theoretical
arguments over the proper interpretation of the treaty of
1259 had little persuasive force inthe Gascon countryside,
and in an attempt to counter French encroachments, the
king-dukes adopted a policy of concession which, in the
long term, may have further detracted from their
prestige.51 Without the ability to enforce punitive
judicial measures, the king-dukes of Aquitaine, despite
their claims to the contrary, were in fact subjects of the
king of France.
Philip the Fair and his officials, undeterred by
ineffectual English attempts to halt the practice,
continued to disrupt Gascon judicial administration. In the
summer of 1309 a particularly violent clash erupted between
the Plantagenet and Capetian representatives. On 11 July,
Edward II, in order to maintain "our right in all things,"
ordered Guy Ferre to incarcerate Bertrand de Mota, valet of
the king of France, Rose de Mota, wife of Bertrand, and
many others for the assassination of Arnaud Carbonel,
citizen of Bazadais.52 Neither Arnauds political importance
nor the circumstances of his murder emerge from the laconic
public records, but Edward IIs justification combined with
Bertrands association with Philip the Fairs household
perhaps explains the French kings determined response to
the king-dukes actions. In December, Philip IV, acting as
the duke of Aquitaines overlord, ordered Sir John de
Hastings, Guy Ferres successor as seneschal of Gascony, to
release the prisoners. When Sir John failed to respond,
Philip IV commanded the seneschal of Toulouse to obtain the
immediate liberation of Bertrand and his followers, either
by grace or force.53 At that critical juncture, March 1310,
the public records fall silent on this interesting episode.
Since no fighting broke out that year, one assumes that
John de Hastings, the English seneschal of Gascony, was
forced to surrender his prisoners to the French seneschal
of Toulouse. Such a surrender would have sent an
unmistakable message to Edward II as to the drawbacks of
In addition to wielding quasi-ducal powers, Guy Ferre
performed a number of administrative tasks which indirectly
bolstered the king-dukes position in the duchy. These
duties included controlling the exploitation of that ducal
demesne land unsuitable for cultivation and collecting the
accustomed duties on the export of Gascon wine to
England.54 In addition, and as a result of Edward IIs
absentee direction of the duchy, his seneschal was directed
in the king-dukes name to appoint castellans, the jurats of
Bordeaux and Bayonne, and many other ducal officials.55 In
March 1308, for instance, Guy Ferre was ordered to appoint
Arnaldo Guillelmi to the viscounty of Goure for as long as
it took to satisfy a debt of 2500 Tournois; in the
following month, Gaillardo Dandos, lord of Mencentz, was
placed in custody of the castle of Gavaretto with its
appurtenances to hold so long as he respected the laws and
lordship of the duke of Gascony. The seneschal also carried
out the mandates of the king in miscellaneous
administrative matters, such as restoring people to
possession of their property or directing the profits of
the bailiffship of Montsegure to the repair and maintenance
of the gates of that town. Lastly, Guy Ferre the Younger
was called upon to confirm the grants and appointments made
by previous seneschals. After a tenure in office of
nineteen months, Guy Ferre was recalled to England on 24
October, 1309.56
The two terms served by Guy Ferre as royal lieutenant and
seneschal of the duchy of Aquitaine shaped the course of
his subsequent career. From 1310 until 1320, he was relied
upon as a ducal commissioner in peace negotiations with
French plenipotentiaries at the Process of Périgueux. He
was also frequently consulted by king, council, and
parliament as an expert on Gascon affairs, and he was sent
into the duchy for varying periods of time either to
supervise Edward IIs official representatives or to relay
messages. It is arguable that Guy Ferre contributed more to
the absentee dukes position in Gascony in this later stage
of his career than he did as the chief officerof the duchy;
such is the impression, at any rate, given by the Gascon
rolls. Guy Ferre the Youngers final decade of service can
be discussed in three sections corresponding to his
assignments in Gascony: 1310-1312, 1312-1314, and 1317-1320.
The Process of Périgueux, which met in April 1311, had long
been sought by the English as a forum to discuss on neutral
ground--that is, anywhere outside Paris--the encroachments
made in Gascony by the officials of Philip IV. The French,
who had never fully adhered to what the king-dukes believed
to be the terms of the peace treaty of 1303,57 exacerbated
Anglo-French tensions by encouraging judicial appeals to
Paris. Moreover, the kings of France had continued to
maintain their own officials in some areas of Gascony
occupied by Philips armies since the beginning of the
1294-1297 war. Sir Guy Ferre went to Gascony on the kings
orders in August 1310 to join the negotiating commission
led by John of Brittany, who was serving for a second time
as lieutenant of Aquitaine.58 Among the many goals Edward
II hoped his plenipotentiaries would attain were a
recognition of appellate supremacy for the Gascon courts
and a clarification of the geographical limits of the
French sénéchaux.59 The claims of sovereignty made by both
parties, however, could not be reconciled, and thus the
meeting ended in deadlock.60 In addition to his negotiating
duties, Guy Ferre performed with his fellow commissioners a
variety of administrative and judicial tasks until December
1311, at which time Edward II recalled Sir Guy to England
to act on behalf of Plantagenet authority in a much broader
When Guy Ferre arrived at Westminster in January 1312, the
king appointed him to the commission which reviewed the
Ordinances made the preceding year by earls and barons
exasperated by Edward IIs expensive infatuation with Piers
Gaveston.62 The Ordinances of 1311 severely restricted the
kings freedom to act in matters of patronage and regulated
his ability to leave the realm or wage war. The members of
Edward IIs carefully composed commission not surprisingly
declared the Ordinances prejudicial to royal prerogative
and absolved the king from his obligation to abide by them.
After Edward II had reclaimed control of his government,
Guy Ferre was once more dispatched to Gascony and arrived
there in late August, 1312.63
It is difficult to ascertain Sir Guys exact ministerial
status during the 1312-1314 period of his Gascon service.
His letters directing him to Gascony in the company of two
other officials experienced in Gascon affairs (Sir William
Inge and Master Thomas of Cambridge) ordered him, among
other things, to restore concord between John Ferrers,
seneschal of Gascony, and a dominant local noble, Amanieu
dAlbret, both of whom were ordered by the king-duke to
appear before a commission headed by Guy Ferre. No more
mention of this conflict is made in the Gascon rolls, and
the remainder of Edward IIs mandates to Guy Ferre and John
Ferrers up to October 1312 are ordinary instructions to the
seneschal that differ little from those received by Guy
Ferre when he held that office.64 While the Gascon rolls
shed very little light on the nature of John Ferrers tenure
in office, unedited sources consulted by Malcolm Vale
reveal that John Ferrers was a felonious exploiter of his
office whose behavior provoked a vicious, localized war.65
His criminal activity, moreover, eventually resulted in his
murder. Vales exposition of this crisis suggests that
Edward II sent Guy Ferre into Gascony to monitor and
correct the tumultuous activities of John Ferrers. At the
time of John Ferrers murder--early October 1312--Guy Ferre
had started on his way back to England. The king
countermanded his recall order and directed Sir Guy Ferre
to remain with the new seneschal, Sir Amaury de Craon, for
the purpose of aiding that officer in unspecified
negotiations.66 Assuming the role of the king-duke, Guy
Ferre received the new seneschals oath of office and, in
November 1312, delivered to him the seal of the duchy.67
From that time until Guy Frres return to England before
Michaelmas on 29 September 1313, he and Sir Amaury jointly
performed the routine duties of office which have been
previously described. This period proved to be both Guy
Ferre the Youngers last extended stay in Gascony, as well
as his final contribution to the English kings continuing
struggle to maintain his ducal authority.68
Guy Ferre appeared only infrequently in the public records
from 1314 to 1317, and in those documents which provide
some information as to his whereabouts, he was in England.
By this time Sir Guy would have been an elderly man, and it
seems probable that he partially retired from public life:
he received no letters of protection to go overseas on
royal business, witnessed no charters, and offered no
advice to the council as he had done in 1311-1312. When he
did receive letters patent or close during these years,
they were either grants of privileges or orders to satisfy
a debt.69
The last stage of Sir Guy Ferre the Youngers career in
Gascony consisted of two rather dramatic missions. After a
three year absence from the duchy the first of these took
place in May 1317. John of Brittany, once again serving as
royal lieutenant and concurrently directing a royal
commission, was ordered by the king to give credence to an
oral report delivered by Guy Ferre on the kings behalf.
John of Brittanys commission was negotiating to free Aymer
de Valence, earl of Pembroke, from a German prince who had
abducted the earl on his return journey from the papal
court. Although the records conceal the kings intent in
sending Guy Ferre to the lieutenant of the duchy, we may
surmise that his report dealt in some fashion with this
The second and final time that Guy Ferre was employed in
Gascony by Edward II occurred during the summer of 1320.
Ironically enough, Guy Ferre was required to wait upon the
king-duke at the homage ceremony performed before the high
altar in the cathedral of Amiens. Waiting upon the prince,
which could include performing such menial domestic tasks
as bearing the lords cup, was a ceremonial expression of
the reciprocal dependence existing between lord and
vassal.70 The lord, as we have seen, depended on his
vassals to maintain and extend his honor, rights, and
prestige; likewise, the vassal relied upon his lord for
protection and sustenance, the latter of which, by the
fourteenth century, was generally provided through
patronage. Edward IIs request that Guy Ferre join his
personal entourage was a public acknowledgement of Sir Guys
efforts to preserve ducal authority. On 29 June 1320, as a
member of Edward IIs personal retinue, Guy Ferre witnessed
the king-dukes performance of homage to Philip V for his
duchy of Aquitaine. The swearing of an oath of personal
loyalty, however, was not included in the ceremony. A few
days later, at an interview between the kings of France and
England and their advisors (which probably included Guy
Ferre, although no contemporary record specifically places
him there), a French courtier suggested that Edward II
fulfill all his feudal obligations by swearing at that
moment the oath of fealty to the king of France. Edward II
hotly retorted that Philip IV had not required him to swear
fealty in 1308 and he had no intention of doing so now.71
Sir Guy Ferre, a longtime advocate of ducal sovereignty,
must have been well gratified by the kings answer. The
uncomfortable subject was dropped, but not forgotten;
indeed, the issue of liege homage in return for Aquitaine
continued to vex Anglo-French relations until the middle of
the fifteenth century and contributed significantly to the
outbreak of those destructive conflicts collectively
referred to as the Hundred Years War.
Upon the completion of the homage ceremony, Sir Guy Ferre
the Younger returned to England and retired from royal
service. His name dropped out of the public records in 1320
and did not resurface until his death on 27 March 1323. The
inquisitions post mortem compiled in the following weeks
reveal that Sir Guy died in possession of nine manors
located in six separate counties.72 The jurors did no
speculate on Guy Ferres age, but it is possible for us to
do so. Sometime after 1271 and before 1273, Guy Ferre was
knighted. That ceremony usually took place between the
young noblemans eighteenth and twenty-first year, which
suggests that Guy Ferre was born circa 1253 and reached the
venerable age of seventy years. Sir Guy Ferre the Younger
was survived by his widow, Eleanor Ferre, who apparently
never remarried and lived until 1349.73
The weaknesses inherent in the duke of Aquitaines policy of
absenteeism appear to outweigh overwhelmingly any practical
benefits offered by such a course of action. The
Plantagenets authority in the duchy rested squarely upon
the quality of their representatives vice-ducal activities.
As we have seen, the seneschals of Gascony varied widely in
their exercise of ducal authority: whereas Guy Ferres
examplary service may have enhanced ducal prestige,
officials like John Ferrers jeopardized the king-dukes
already precarious position by alienating his Gascon
subjects and thereby providing opportunites for French
intervention. Even when the king-dukes appointed reliable
officers like Guy Ferre, however, they tended to recall
those representatives after relatively short tenures in
office. This not surprisingly disrupted administrative
continuity to the detriment of ducal authority, and was
probably a result of the enormous demands for patronage
placed on a late-medieval prince. By frequently rotating
the duchys administrative personnel, the kings of England
spread among their dependents as widely as possible their
limited financial resources.
The benefits of absenteeism, on the other hand, were
largely symbolic. Edward II exploited his absence from the
duchy to avoid performing liege homage, a ceremony which
demeaned the prestige of the Plantagenet monarchs.
Historians have characterized the fourteenth century as one
which witnessed the birth and growth of national spirit. If
this is so, we should not underestimate the degree to which
the king of England could be motivated by a desire to avoid
placing himself in public subjection to his greatest rival,
the king of France. Imperfect control over the duchy of
Aquitaine, one of the king of Englands most valuable
possessions, was the price paid by the Plantagenets for the
maintenance of their regal dignity.
Guy Ferre the Younger aided both Edward I and Edward II in
their attempts to retain ducal authority in Gascony.
Faithful service in the queen mothers household opened to
Sir Guy a career in royal administration. Beginning with
his appointment as locum tenans in 1298, Sir Guy Ferre
launched a twenty-two year effort to maintain Plantagenet
presence in the duchy of Aquitaine. It is an ironic
coincidence that the last time Guy Ferre acted for Edward
II in connection with Gascony was to attend the king-duke
at his performance of homage for the duchy. Ironic perhaps,
yet appropriate, for it was the king of Englands
unfortunate position as a feudal subordinate to the French
monarch which necessitated Sir Guy Ferre the Youngers
presence in Gascony.
Distinguishing Guy Ferre the Younger and Guy Ferre the Elder
On 2 January 1290, two men appeared before the royal court
at Westminster to acknowledge a debt they owed to Guy Ferre
the Younger.74 Later that year, on 20 July, the king
appointed Guy Ferre the Elder to serve on a commission of
oyer and terminer.75 These close and patent roll entries
reveal the existence of two men, probably father and son,
named Guy Ferre. It would be reasonable to assume that the
Elder preceded the Younger, that the father began his
career in the queen mothers household and eventually worked
his way into royal service; once established in the kings
good graces, Guy Ferrethe Elder could easily have
introduced his son into Edward Is administration. Though a
plausible scenario, this course of events is based on the
erroneous assumption that the Elder preceded the Younger.
In fact, as the public records demonstrate, it was the
younger Guy Ferre who began his career in the household of
Eleanor of Provence.
In 1281, King Edward I exempted Guy Ferre for life from
service on assizes, juries, commissions, and recognizances
and subsequently excused him from the common summonses in
August and October 1285.76 The appointment, therefore, of
Guy Ferre the Elder to a commission of oyer and terminer
argues that it was the Younger who received life exemption
from such service. Moreover, the inheritance arrangements
made at the death of Joan Ferre also suggest that it was
Guy Ferre the Younger who served the queen mother as
steward of her household. When Joan died in 1285, her heir
was Mathilda, her younger sister. This indicates that Joans
marriage to Guy Ferre had failed to produce children, for
if a child had ever been born to the couple ("heard to cry
within four walls"), Sir Guy would have claimed the
courtesy of England after Joans death. The courtesy was
granted to the husband upon the birth of the couples first
child and empowered the husband as a widower to enjoy his
dead wifes property for the remainder of his life, even if
the couples children predeceased their parents.77 Since an
inquest determined that Joans heir was her sister Mathilda,
and not her husband, Sir Guy was obviously unable to claim
the courtesy. We infer from this that the Guy Ferre who was
concurrently the steward of Eleanor of Provences household
and the husband of Joan Ferre was not the father of Guy
Ferre the Younger.
Finally, and most conclusive, is the evidence adduced from
the inquisitions post mortem pertaining to two of the
several manors held by Guy Ferre at the time of his death
in 1323. First, the jury in Suffolk discovered that Guy
Ferre held the manor of Benhale by right of his second
wife, Eleanor.78 In 1292 the sheriff of Suffolk had
received orders to arrest the persons who "carried away the
goods of Guy Ferre the Younger, at Benhale, co. Suffolk,
entered his free warren there, hunted therein, and carried
away hares, rabbits, and partridges."79 This Guy Ferre also
held at his death the manor of Gestingthorpe, Essex. Sir
Guy had once had possession of this manor in right of his
wife Joan, but had been forced to relinquish it, along with
the rest of her property, upon her death in 1285. Four
years later Edward I returned the manor to Guy Ferre to be
held by him and his male heirs in perpetuity.80 In 1323,
however, the jury of Essex determined that Guy Ferre had
died without a male heir of his body and turned the manor
of Gestingthorpe over to the royal escheator.81
While the documents indeed reveal that Guy Ferre the
Younger began his career in the 1270s in the service of the
queen mother, they do not clearly explain the rather sudden
appearance in England in 1290 of Guy Ferre the Elder.
However, the records do permit the construction of an
informed hypothesis. We know, for instance, that Guy Ferre
the Younger accompanied the king to Gascony in 1286, that
he returned to England in autumn 1289, and that Guy Ferre
the Elder received his first appointment the following
January. Furthermore, the inquisitions post mortem of
Eleanor Ferre, Sir Guy the Youngers second wife, state that
Guy Ferre was foreign born.82 From these facts we may
postulate that Guy Ferre the Younger brought his father
back to England with him in 1289 and used his position in
the royal household to introduce Guy Ferre the Elder into
the kings patronage. Guy Ferre the Elder was only sparingly
employed, however, and seems to have died before 1302
although an exact date for Guy Ferre the Elders death
cannot be determined because no inquisitions post mortem
appear to have been made into his estate.83 Royal
escheators were excused from conducting inquisitions post
mortem only in those cases in which the deceased held no
land in the counties under theirjurisdiction. The absence,
therefore, of inquisitions post mortem tends to buttress
the case we have argued in favor of Sir Guy the Younger,
for it is highly unlikely that Guy Ferre the Elder could
have served the royal family since the 1270s and yet leave
after his death no evidence of the material rewards that
would accompany such long devotion.
1. Yves Renouard, ed., Rôles Gascons (Paris, 1962), iv, 23,
28-29. The English king-dukes invariably styled themselves
dux Aquitanie and referred to their duchy as ducatus
Aquitanie, yet their chief representative was the
senescallus Vasconie, which in any event reflected more
accurately post-1259 political realities. The authority of
the seneschal of Gascony covered an area roughly delineated
by the viscounty of Saintonge in the north, those of
Périgord and Agenais in the east, the lordships of Gaure,
Fezensac, and Armagnac in the southeast, and by the borders
of the independent county of Béarn in the south, extending
westward in common with the latter all the way to the
Bayonnais and the Atlantic coast. An excellent map is found
in Charles Bémont, ed., Rôles Gascons (Paris, 1906), iii,
2. Malcolm Vale, The Angevin Legacy and the Hundred Years
War 1250-1340 (Oxford, 1990), 141-142, estimates that in
1324 the exchequer received 1000 more from Gascony than
from all the English shires combined. G. P. Cuttino had
reached similar conclusions 40 years earlier ("Historical
Revision: The Causes of the Hundred Years War," Speculum 31
[1950], 468-9).
3. J. P. Trabut-Cussac, LAdministration anglaise en
Gascogne sous Henry III et Edouard I de 1254 à 1307
(Geneva, 1972); Eleanor C. Lodge, Gascony under English
Rule (London, 1926); Chapters in the Administrative History
of Medieval England, 6 vols. (Manchester, 1928-37); The
Place of the Reign of Edward II in English History, ed. H.
Johnstone (Manchester, 1936), 191-202.
4. See, for example, Bémonts exhaustive Introduction in
volume 3 of Rôles Gascons, 4 vols. (Paris, 1885-1964),
xviii-cxxiv. Many of Chaplais articles are conveniently
collected in Essays in Medieval Diplomacy and
Administration (London, 1981). Vales Bibliography provides
extensive references on virtually all aspects of Gascon
history in the 13th and 14th centuries.
5. Renouard, Rôles Gascons, iv, 23-24, 26-27, 29, 29-30.
6. Charles T. Wood investigates the practical implications
of the treaty of Paris in The French Apanages and the
Capetian Monarchy, 1224-1328 (Cambridge, Mass., 1966),
7. Louis IX personally received Henry IIIs liege homage on
4 December 1259 in the garden of his palace on the
Ile-de-la-Cité (Trabut-Cussac, LAdministration, 18-20;
Vale, Angevin Legacy, 51). Oaths of fealty were due in 1272
(succession of Edward I), 1285 (succession of Philip IV),
1306 (investment of Edward of Carnarvon), 1307 (succession
of Edward II), 1314 (succession of Louis X), 1316
(succession of John I and Philip V), 1322 (succession of
Charles IV), and 1325 (investment of Edward of Windsor).
Liege homage was performed by Edward I in 1273 and 1286, by
Edward II in 1306 (one year before his accession to the
throne), 1308, and 1320, and by the future Edward III in
8. The lord-vassal relationship between England and France
in theory dictated the formers foreign policy: the king of
England was prevented by his oath of fealty from acting in
a fashion prejudicial to his overlords interests. In
practice, the Plantagenets tended to disregard this
restriction and pursued an independent foreign policy.
9. See PierreChaplais, "English Arguments concerning the
Feudal Status of Aquitaine in the Fourteenth Century,"
Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 21 [1948]
203-213, especially pages 206-208, and H. Rothwell, "Edward
Is Case against Philip the Fair over Gascony in 1298,"
English Historical Review 42 [1927] 572-582.
10. Edward is reported to have said to Philip III, "Domine
Rex, facio vobis homagium pro omnibus terris quas debeo
tenere de vobis" (Trabut-Cussac, LAdministration, 41, cites
Public Record Office, S. C. 1/VII, 89, as the authority for
this statement).
11. Bémont, Rôles Gascons, xviii-cii; Renouard, Ibid.,
xviii-xxxi; Trabut-Cussac, LAdministration, appendices,
12. Calendar of Patent Rolls 1266-1272, 512. Edmund took
the Cross in 1268 (Maurice Powicke, The Thirteenth Century,
1216-1307, 2nd. ed. [Oxford, 1962], 219) but never
fulfilled his crusading vow. Except for this monetary
grant, there is no evidence that Guy Ferre ever went on
crusade. Hereafter volumes of the patent rolls will be
cited under the abbreviated title "CPR" followed by the
years covered in that particular volume.
13. Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem and Other
Analogous Documents (London, 1910-1916), ix, 380, 300.
Sylvia Thrupp demonstrates that Londoners distinguished
between "aliens" (those people living in the city who had
been born outside the country) and "foreigners" (Englishmen
who resided in London without being entitled to
citizenship). See The Merchant Class of Medieval London
(Ann Arbor, 1948), 2-3.
14. Michael Prestwich concludes that Sir Guy was a Gascon
(Edward I [Berkeley, 1988], 151). After the outbreak of war
in 1294, Guy Ferres English manors were seized by zealous
royal escheators. The king ordered his lands restored to
him in 1295 on the grounds that Guy Ferre was not of the
power of the king of France (Calendar of Close Rolls
1288-1296, 502). Hereafter volumes of the close rolls will
be cited under the abbreviated title "CCR" followed by the
years covered in that particular volume.
15. CCR 1272-1279, 113. The charter was given on the Feast
of St. Hilary, 13 January; CPR 1272-1281, 125, records the
queen mothers life grant to Guy Ferre of the manor of
Whitley, co. Surrey; ibid., 302, 355. By right of his wife,
Guy Ferre held the serjeanty of the dies cuneorum in the
Exchange of London (CCR 1279-1288, 217); CPR 1272-1281,
359. Edward I granted Guy Ferre, "for his long service," an
annuity of 51 11s. plus land worth 10. This grant was
repeated on 4 June 1280 (CCR 1279-1288, 18).
16. CPR 1272-1281, 361, 460.
17. Ibid., 429. Guy Ferre was subsequently excused from the
common summonses in Essex and Norfolk (CCR 1279-1288, 364,
370, 406). Ibid., 144 (oaks at Haneleye).
18. CPR 1281-1292, 484, 53, 81, 188.
19. Ibid., 180. Sir Guy Ferres wife, who died before 1 July
1285, should not be confused with a second Joan de Ferre,
who was alive in November 1285 and the wife of John Ferre
(whose relation to Guy is uncertain). This latter Joan was
a lady-in-waiting in the queen consorts household. Like
many household members, Joan, wife of John, fell ill at
Fontevrault abbey while Queen Eleanor stayed there in 1285.
The controller of the wardrobe recorded in his account book
the following payment: "Domino Ricardo de Bures pro
expensis currus . . . cum v equis portantis dominam J. de
Ferre et Sibil Poer et alias domicellas camere regine
infirmatas apud Fontem Ebraudi eundo et redeundo et pro
expensis carectarii et duorum garcionum sequentium currum
illum, xvj s. sterlingorum " (Benjamin F. Byerly and
Catherine Ridder Byerly, eds., Records of the Wardrobe and
Household, 1285-1286 (London, 1977), 842, 82. By 1292, Guy
Ferre had married as his second wife, Eleanor, who survived
him by twenty-six years.
20. CPR 1281-1292, 194, 239, 252; Powicke, Thirteenth
Century, 290-291.
21. From November 1285 to Novermber 1286, the controller of
the wardrobe paid Guy Ferre 46s. 8d. for his fee, 10 marks
of silver over his wages, 10 marks "pro feodo suo loco
vadiorum," a additional 5 marks for his fee, and a prest of
6 13s. (Records of the Wardrobe and Household, 1285-1286,
1073, 99; 1721, 173; 1182, 107; 1722, 173; 1725,174; 1805,
181). These sums, however, do not reflect Guy Ferres sole
source of income, which also derived from various annuities
paid at the exchequer as well as the proceeds of his
several manors.
22. Rôles Gascons, iii, Introduction, ix-xv; Trabut-Cussac,
81-82; Lodge, 57-59; Vale, 66-67.
23. Rôles Gascons, ii, 1425, 441; on 6 May 1289, Guy Ferre
was at Lavardac, Agenais (ibid., 1475, 457). He witnessed a
land transfer at Clarendon on 7 November (CCR 1288-1296,
24. Powicke, Thirteenth Century, 512; CCR 1288-1296, 247;
CPR 1281-1292, 329, 325. The legal term "male heirs of the
body" refers exclusively to a mans legitimate sons;
property granted to a man under this formula excluded his
wife, siblings, daughters, and illegitimate sons from
inheriting. See the appendix for a discussion of the
importance of the manor of Gestingthorpe in distinguishing
between Guy Ferre the Elder and his namesake.
25. Ibid., 413, 414. Renham, co. Essex, was in the kings
gift because Robert Coalround, "being an idiot," had been
taken into royal custody. Guy Ferre received Turok, co.
Essex, during the minority of the heirs of Bartholomew de
Bryaunzun. Sir Guy Ferre transferred the wardship of this
manor to Walter de Layeton, keeper of the wardrobe, on 4
July 1291 (ibid., 439).
26. Edward I issued letters of protection on 23 January and
extended them until Christmas on 16 June. In December,
these letters were further extended until mid-summer. By
April 1292, however, Guy Ferre had returned to England
(ibid., 418, 435, 464; CCR 1288-1296, 263). See Powicke,
Thirteenth Century, 598-605, for further discussion of this
27. CCR 1288-96, 289.
28. CPR 1292-1301, 66, 67, 69.
29. Rôles Gascons, iii, 2732, 156; 3728, 277.
30. CCR 1288-96, 502-503. Guy Ferre testified before the
king that Reymund, parson of Fakenham, co. Norfolk, whose
goods had also been seized by the sheriff of Norfolk,
celebrated a daily Mass for the soul of Eleanor, late queen
of England, the kings mother. Guy Ferre held the advowson
of Reymunds church.
31. Edmunds force was not dispatched until the early months
of 1296, after the French had enjoyed some success in the
field (Lodge, Gascony, 66). Vales discussion of the causes,
campaigns, and expenses of this war (Angevin Legacy,
200-215) is more complete than Trabut-Cussacs
(LAdministration, 108-9).
32. Rôles Gascons, iii, 4348, 351. While an argument based
on the silence of the records cannot be regarded as
conclusive, the fact that Guy Ferre failed to appear in the
close and patent rolls during the period in question
suggests that he may not have been in England.
33. CCR 1296-1302, 58; CPR 1292-1301, 306. Edward I was in
Scotland, personally directing the English armies. Both Guy
Ferre the Elder and the Younger were summoned to Parliament
that year (Rôles Gascons, iii, 102, note 7).
34. Ibid., 4506, 376.
35. Prestwich, Edward I, provides an excellent description
of Edward Is household, distinguishing between the domus,
the domestic establishment, and the familia, the group of
servants who performed administrative, financial, and
military duties for the king. Prestwich, following T. F.
Tout, emphasizes the role played by the controller of the
wardrobe (also keeper of the privy seal) in the expansion
of the familia into the kings personal administrative
machine. See chapter 6, "The Royal Household," 134-169,
especially pages 134-138.
36. Similar to the lieutenancy of Aquitaine was that of
Ireland, an appointment that entailed the exercise of
viceregal authority.
37. Sir Guy continued to profit from royal patronage and,
on rare occasions, was employed on the kings errands to
other parts of Europe. Beginning in October 1304, for
instance, Guy Ferre shared with Aymer de Valence, soon to
be earl of Pembroke, the financial management of the
princes household; in 1306 theyreceived 2000 marks (1,333
6s. 8d.) to pay the expenses of the Prince of Wales familia
while the heir to the throne travelled in Gascony (CCR
1302-1307, 222; CPR 1301-1307, 263-264). May McKisack, The
Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (Oxford, 1959), 1-2, discusses
the reputation of the princes household for extravagance
and unruly behavior. Edward of Carnarvon had been invested
with the duchy in 1306 and while on the continent performed
liege homage to Philip IV. Further discussion of those
facets of Sir Guys biography which do not directly bear on
maintaining ducal authority in Aquitaine will be laid aside
in the ensuing analysis of the Plantagenets policy of
38. Rôles Gascons, iv, 1211, 340-341, is an inspection and
confirmation of a grant made by Guy Ferre, while CCR
1307-1313, 557, directs Guy Ferre to deliver the ducal seal
to the new seneschal.
39. Pierre Chaplais, "The Chancery of Guyenne 1289-1453,"
in Essays in Medieval Diplomacy and Administration, essay
VIII, 78-79. There was a notary, sometimes called the
scriptor curie Vasconie, who was the head of the seneschals
secretariat and "keeper of the rolls and papers of his
sénéchaussée," but Chaplais does not describe an enrollment
process for the seneschals business. Edward II appointed
Arnaldo de Rivali to be notary public under Guy Ferre
(Rôles Gascons, iv, 72, 37-38).
40. Rôles Gascons, iii, 4506, 376; 4548, 401;
Trabut-Cussac, 372.
41. Rôles Gascons, iii, 4506, 376; 4515, 379; 4517, 379;
4519, 379-380, 4516, 379; 4518, 379; 4525 381, 4533, 396,
4534, 396.
42. Rothwell, "Edward Is Case," 572-582.
43. Rôles Gascons, iv, 22, 28. Guy Ferre the Younger was
seneschal of Gascony for seventeen months, from 12 March,
1308, until 24 October, 1309 (ibid., 313, 97). Considering
the annual salary (500), there probably existed a long line
of royal retainers eager to serve the king in this
capacity; thus, the brevity of Guy Ferres tenure may
reflect the kings need to distribute his patronage as
widely as possible.
44. Ibid., 23-24, 26-27, 29, 29-30.
45. Ibid., 50, 34; 67-68, 36-37; 91, 43; 115, 48; 120, 50;
130, 52; 185-186, 64-65; 244, 79.
46. Chaplais, "English Arguments concerning the Feudal
Status of Aquitaine in the Fourteenth Century," 206-208.
47. Unless, as often happened, the duke of Aquitaine,
acting in his dual role as king of England, allowed a
Gascon appeal to pass on to the curia regis.
48. Joseph A. Kicklighter, "French Jurisdictional Supremacy
in Gascony: One Aspect of the Ducal Governments Response,"
Journal of Medieval History, 5 [1979] 128-129; Pierre
Chaplais, "The Chancery of Guyenne 1289-1453," 61.
49. Rôles Gascons, iv, 84, 41.
50. Ibid., 216, 72-73.
51. Kicklighter demonstrates in "French jurisdictional
supremacy in Gascony," 129-131, that those who renounced
their appeals to Paris were swiftly restored to "royal
favor." This ambiguous phrase in some cases meant the
repeal of heavy retaliatory fines imposed by the ducal
government on those who took appeals to Paris or
restoration of the appellant to a lucrative official
52. Guy Ferre was ordered to incarcerate these people and
seize their goods "secundum foros et consuetudinis parcium
illarum fuerit faciendum, jure nostro in omnibus
conservato" (Rôles Gascons, iv, 254, 82).
53. Philips order to the seneschal of Gascony (Charles
Samaran, ed., La Gascogne dans les registres du Trésors des
Chartes [Paris, 1966], 35, 5) was repeated on 13 March,
1310 (ibid., 38, 5). For Philips command to the seneschal
of Toulouse, see ibid., 39, 5.
54. Rôles Gascons, iv, 24. In one of Guy Ferres appointment
letters (Ibid., 28, 29), exploitation of the demesne
included collecting ducal income from forests and woods,
wastes, mud-flats or beaches (basas), enclosures (paludes),
salt pans (saltus), and other unproductive possessions ("et
alias possessiones steriles nobis"); bid., 30, 30.
55. Ibid., 47-49, 33-34; 51, 34; 59, 35 (appoint jurats of
Bordeaux); 88, 42; 93, 43; 97, 99, 44; 123, 127, 51; 130,
132, 52; 143, 54-55; 163, 58; 178, 63; 209, 70; 253, 82
(commit the collection of the custom on wines to Peter de
Francia, merchant of Gascony); 266, 85.
56. Ibid., 34, 31; ibid., 92, 43; 56, 35; 142, 54; 35, 31;
243, 79; ibid., 313, 97. Guy Ferre was one of the men who
witnessed the return of the great seal to Edward II by the
Bishop of Chichester on 11 May 1310 (CCR 1307-1313, 258).
57. French forces, which had seized the duchy in 1294,
still occupied parts of Gascony (including Bordeaux) in
1303, at which time the duke Aquitaine was formally (and by
proxy) reinvested by the king of France with the duchy. A
treaty had been concluded prior to the restitution whereby
both sides pledged amity and non-interference. The English
interpreted these terms as a French acknowledgement that
Gascony was to be held by allodial tenure (ibid., 224-225).
58. Rôles Gascons, iv, 393-411, 120-126; CCR 1307-1313,
289. From 1310 to 1312 Edward II concurrently maintained in
the duchy a royal lieutenant and seneschal of Gascony.
Prior to 1310 and after 1312, the two officials were merged.
59. Rôles Gascons, iv, 397, 122 (appelate supremacy); 404,
123-124 (territorial limits).
60. CPR 1307-1313, 338, contains an order to civil and
canon lawyers gathered at a provincial council in London to
review the arguments made by the French royal
representatives and report on their validity to the English
commissioners in Gascony. Also see McKisack, Fourteenth
Century, 108.
61. Rôles Gascons, iv, 586-587, 170; 1506, 434-435; 1619,
62. CCR 1307-1313, 451; CPR 1307-1313, 437. This episode is
admirably treated by McKisack, Fourteenth Century, 12-30.
The kings response to the Ordainers, including his
authorization of a review of the Ordinances, is found on
pages 23-30
63. CPR 1307-1313, 484.
64. Rôles Gascons, iv, 713-715, 201-202; ibid., 738, 206,
for example, asks John Ferrers and Guy Ferre to put Lupus
Burgundi de Clavery in possession of the castle of Sumpoy.
65. Vale, Angevin Legacy, 164-174, discusses at length the
Gascon career of John Ferrers in a section called "John
Ferrers and the Crisis of 1312." Amanieu dAlbret maintained
that Ferrers had seized, mutilated, and killed Albrets
kinsmen, that Ferrers had appointed Albrets mortal enemy to
the seneschalsy of the Landes, the locus of Albrets lands
and vassals, and that Ferrers broke his oath as seneschal
by oppressing the Gascon countryside with a private army.
Other plaintiffs alleged that Ferrers clients terrorized
and intimidated those who appealed against his abusive
rule. On one occasion, Ferrers and an accomplice
defenestrated a French royal official, who suffered a
broken arm and leg from the fall. Vale comments, "Offences
of this kind were not uncommon in Aquitaine, but when they
were done with the knowledge and connivance of the
king-dukes representative, the matter was of more serious
consequence" (168). In his own brutal fashion, Ferrers was
maintaining ducal authority, but the dispatch of Guy Ferre
into the duchy suggests that Ferrers methods were
ultimately counterproductive.
66. Rôles Gascons, iv, 755-756, 210.
67. Ibid., 757, 210; 776, 213-214; CCR 1307-1313, 557.
68. On 2 May, 1313, Guy Ferre received letters of
protection authorizing him to remain in Gascony on the
kings business until Michaelmas (CPR 1307-1313, 572). Since
the issue of letters of protection does not perforce
dictate the recipients whereabouts, we cannot be certain
that Guy Ferre remained in Gascony for the full term of his
letters of protection, but after receiving an
administrative mandate from the king on 28 March, 1313
(Rôles Gascons, iv, 869, 238-239), he is absent from the
public records until his reappearance in England on 27
April, 1314 (CPR 1313-1317, 147).
69. Ibid., 187 (gift of four bucks from a forest in Essex);
CCR 1313-1318, 16 (order to pay the Abbot of Brunne 13s.).
70. Ibid., 469-470; On the same day, 10 May, Edward II
dispatched messengers to Philip V, Charles of Valois, the
duke of Burgundy, and the counts of Evreuz, Porcéan, La
Marche, Julers, and Bar, some of them expressly to seek aid
in freeing Aymer de Valence; CCR 1313-1318, 446; Vale,
51-52. Homage ceremonies tended to be held on neutral
ground. In 1308, for instance, Edward II did homage to
Philip IV in Boulogne; The classic discussion of "Feudal
Ties of Dependence" is found in Marc Bloch, Feudal Society,
trans. by L. A. Manyon (London, 1961), i, 123-279.
71. Vale, 51.
72. Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem, vi, 422, 248-249.
He held lands in the shires of Kent, Surrey, Essex,
Suffolk, Lincoln, and Oxford.
73. Ibid., ix, 380, 300-301. Eleanor Ferres personal seal
still survived in 1854. It bore the arms of Ferre and those
of Eleanors father in pale with the legend, "sigill :
Archaeological Journal, 11 [1854] 367-380.
74. CCR 1288-1296, 113.
75. CPR 1281-1292,405.
76. CPR 1272-1281, 429; CCR 1279-1288, 364, 370, 406.
77. See Frederick Pollock and Frederic Maitland, The
History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I, 2nd ed.
(Cambridge, 1923), ii, 406-414.
78. Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vi, 249.
79. CPR 1292-1301, 44. Sir Guy complained in August 1294
that a large body of locals "entered his free fair at
Benhale, co. Suffolk, which he holds by charter of the
king, assaulted . . . his bailiffs deputed to collect the
toll and other customs in the said fair, broke his houses
in the said town, and carried away some goods" (ibid.,
80. CPR 1281-1292, 325.
81. Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vi, 248-249.
82. Ibid., ix, 300-301. After the outbreak of war in 1294,
Guy Ferres English manors were seized by zealous royal
escheators. The king ordered his lands restored to him in
1295 on the grounds that Guy Ferre was not of the power of
the king of France (CCR 1288-1296, 502). In English terms,
Sir Guy was clearly "French."
83. He received his only summons to Parliament in 1297
(Rôles Gascons, iii, 102, n. 7). A Guy Ferre styled the
Elder last appeared on 12 February, 1301 (CCR 1296-1302,
478), whereas the style the Younger continued in sporadic
use until 1305 (CPR 1301-1307, 393). 


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